Law Introduced to Expand Healthcare to Pacific VeteransMay 26, 2019, 11:00 AM HST (Updated May 25, 2019, 2:21 PM)
A new law introduced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (May 22, 2019) would help address the healthcare needs of veterans from Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated State of Micronesia.
The Compact of Free Association (COFA) Veterans Review Act would help veterans in the Freely Associated States (FAS)—which include the aforementioned countries who have a COFA agreement with the U.S. The original COFA Veterans Act implemented a three-year pilot program to provide hospital care and medical services to veterans living in the FAS.
The new legislation was introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), along with Congresswoman Aumua Amata (AS-at large), Congressman Michael San Nicolas (GU-at large), Rep. Don Young (AK-at large) and Rep. Ed Case (HI-01).
“Veterans have answered the call and put their lives on the line in service to our nation,” said Sen. Gabbard. “Our nation owes a debt of gratitude and must ensure they get the care they earned and deserve, no matter where they live. The COFA Veterans Review Act is a first step toward ensuring our country fulfills its commitment to care for all our veterans.”
“A promise made to our servicemembers should be a promise kept,” said Rep. Ed Case. “That applies equally to all those who answered the call to duty from the island states of the Compacts of Free Association. If they need to access the medical care promised, then we need to assure they are not prevented from doing so by the time and cost of travel to the care they need.”
“We commend Rep. Gabbard for her leadership on this important piece of legislation that would provide assistance to veterans in the Freely Associated States who must currently travel long distances to utilize their VA healthcare benefits,” said Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo. “If adopted, this legislation would reduce current barriers to care for thousands of veterans, who have honorably served in the U.S. military.”